What you eat can play a big role in preventing colorectal cancer, with research showing that fiber-filled foods lower risk; red and processed meats increase it. Now a study hones in on how diet can affect risk, showing that swapping a high-fiber healthy diet for a low-fiber western-style diet alters gut bacteria and signs of inflammation that may play a role in colon cancer.
The study is published in Nature Communications and it adds to a growing body of research on how our bacteria – our microbiota – play a role in cancer risk.
For the study, researchers flipped the diets of 20 African Americans and 20 South Africans for two weeks. All the participants had colonoscopy exams before and after the diet swap.
The Americans were served African-style foods, almost quadrupling their fiber intake to an amount equal to over 3.5 cups of beans. At the same time, they cut their calories from fat in half. Africans went the opposite direction, dramatically cutting their fiber and upping their fat intake.
After two weeks on the African diet, the Americans had less markers of inflammation in the colon while those same markers increased among the Africans eating the less healthy diet. There were also opposing increases and decreases of the compound butyrate, which forms from digesting fiber and is linked to lowering colon cancer risk. The American group was producing more butyrate; the Africans on the American diet less. Continue reading
Girls who are overweight as young children and teens may face increased risk for colorectal cancer decades later, regardless of what they weigh as adults, suggests a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. The study is partially funded by AICR.
In an unexpected finding, the same link for overweight boys and adult colorectal cancer was not found.
While the link between overweight adult and higher risk of developing colorectal cancer is clear — for both women and men — the role of excess body fat as a child is an emerging area of research.
For the study, researchers pulled data from almost 110,000 people who were part of two large and long-term population studies. One included only women, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the other men, the Health Professionals Follow-up study.
Back in 1988, everyone had picked from a set of nine body shapes on what they looked like at ages 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40, along with their current age. Then everyone regularly answered questionnaires about their weight, activity, diet and other lifestyle habits. Continue reading
At holiday meals we enjoy foods that may not typically be part of our healthy, cancer-preventive plate, like ham. And some holiday foods have religious significance taking a special place on our menu – like eggs or wine.
Both Easter and Passover combine family, religious and cultural traditions full of meaning and comfort, so we savor these special foods and menus. But you can also dress up your plate and menu with seasonal and other holiday foods that add color, nutrition and cancer-fighting substances.
- Asparagus: This cheerful bearer of spring adds beauty to your table along with vitamins A, C and K, folate and cancer-fighting fiber to your diet.
- Hot Cross Buns: If these are staples at your Easter morning breakfast, this year try substituting whole wheat flour for half of the white flour in your favorite recipe. Whole grains contain many cancer-fighting substances and as foods high in fiber, they help protect against colorectal cancer.
- Spring Greens: Look for tender baby greens – spinach, kale, chard – these are packed with the antioxidant vitamins A and C. They’re great as salads, or added to egg dishes, like frittatas, omelets or casseroles. Try our Kale Frittata with Tomato and Basil.
Plate for the Seder
- Dark Chocolate: A small amount of this phytochemical rich food can go a long way. Serve a beautiful dessert plate with small chunks of dark chocolate, fresh strawberries and toasted walnuts. Or make chocolate covered matzah for snacks and dessert.
- Herbs: A part of the Seder plate, these symbols of spring can add flavor and powerful cancer-fighting substances at any meal. Learn more about herbs and try our Pomegranate Salsa for color and a little bite.
- Matzah Ball Soup: So soothing and comforting, you can add a little more color and nutrition with carrots, parsnips, onions and other delicious veggies. You might even try making the matzah balls with whole wheat matzah for more cancer protection.
For more ideas check out our Matzoh Brie, ways to get active this weekend and more Cancer-Fighting Easter recipes.